Barbell Deadlift

  1. Stand with your mid-foot under the bar and grip the bar with your hands, about a shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend your knees, then lift the bar by straightening your back. It is important to keep your back straight.
  3. Stand to your full height and hold.
  4. Lower the bar to the floor by bending your knees and keeping your back straight.
Exercise Matrix
GripsOverhand Mixed
Muscles Targeted
PrimaryLower back Traps (mid-back)

Ty's Tips

My Deadlift, Not Yours

The deadlift involves many muscles, all of your limbs, and every load-bearing joint (ankles, knees, hips and shoulders) in your body. There are a lot of variables at play. So having hard-and-fast rules about deadlift form is nearly impossible.

Your body is your body. That seems like an obvious fact, yet it’s one that’s often overlooked when it comes to form.

For example, two people who are the same height may have totally different torso and femur lengths.

A person who has a short torso and long femurs will have a more hip-dominant pull, meaning that their butt will be higher in the air and most of the force will come from their glutes and hamstrings. Meanwhile, a person who has a long torso and short femurs would be able to get lower and involve their quads a bit more.

Detailed How To

#1. Your stance

Conventional Deadlift Foot Placement: You can start with your feet shoulder-width apart. If you’re not sure where this is, try this: Jump in the air 2-3 times. Where your feet land naturally is the proper stance for the conventional deadlift. Your toes should point forward or outward slightly.

Set up so that the bar is about an inch to an inch-and-a-half from your shins. When you look down at the bar, it should be positioned right about the middle of your foot, blocking the laces of your shoes from view.

#2. Your grip

Figuring out where to place your hands is quite simple. Just take a shoulder-width grip.

Choosing how to grip the bar is a little more complicated, and may change throughout your workout. There are three main options:

  • Option #1: The double-overhand grip. This is the “best” grip most of the time. As you increase the amount of weight you can deadlift, you’ll eventually reach a weight where your grip strength becomes an issue. That’s when mixed grip comes in…
  • Option #2: The mixed grip. Also known as “one overhand, one underhand” grip, this style allows you to pull heavier weights more easily. 
  • Option #3: The hook grip. This grip is not very popular and for good reason—it hurts, but it’s not without benefits. The idea behind the hook grip is that you can use more weight than a double-overhand grip, since your thumbs act as hooks for the bar. But here’s the thing: Much of the weight ends up pulling on your thumbs. The stress this places on the tissue, bones, and joints of your thumbs does not feel good. One way people attempt to eliminate the grip problem altogether is to use straps.

Executing the Deadlift

You really only need to think about two things when you pull the bar:

  1. Push off the floor
  2. Keep everything tight (especially your core and lats)

During a conventional deadlift, if you are thinking about “pushing the floor away,” it will help you generate tension throughout your hips and knees.

Keeping your core, arms, and lats engaged will help you avoid rounding your spine, which is dangerous. DO NOT ROUND YOUR SPINE.

When you reach the top of the rep, known as lockout, be careful

Some people seem to think that “locking out” means “leaning back,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Doing that hyperextends your knees and spine, which can compress those all-important spinal discs between your vertebrae. DO NOT HYPEREXTEND YOUR SPINE.

The goal, really, is to just stand up.